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Arc in Armenia

Posted 18th May 2011

Razmic Davoyan and Armine Tamrazian
Razmic Davoyan and Armine Tamrazian

Arc have recently returned from a trip to Armenia at the invitation of poet Razmic Davoyan and his wife and translator Arminé Tamrazian, to make a formal presentation of Razmic's book Whispers and Breath of the Meadows, (no. 27 in Arc's Visible Poets series). As part of the five-day visit, we were presented to the President and entertained by the Minister of Culture, both of whom we were delighted to find were extremely well informed about Arc's cultural activities. We discussed possible future collaborations with both the President and the Minister of Culture, and we hope to develop some of these ideas further.

Whispers and Breath of the Meadows is the only volume of poetry by a living Armenian poet to be translated into English. It was presented to an invited audience at the national centre for the arts in Yerevan, where Razmic read from the book in Armenian and Angela was asked to read in English. The evening began with a welcome given by Armine, and proceeded with an introduction by Tony, who spoke about the significance of Whispers to Arc and about the importance of the Visible Poets series of which it is a part. The reading was very warmly received, not least by Razmic himself who afterwards remarked upon how moved he was to hear Angela's reading of his poems in English. We were astonished to find that this event, as well as our presentation to the President, was deemed to be of such significance that they were both televised on the national news. You can watch the presentation on YouTube.

With all of this unexpected publicity, and through our time with Razmic who took us to visit many wonderful cultural sites, we came to grasp a sense of Armenian literary culture not only as an ancient and enduring tradition of immense national importance, but also as one of great inclusiveness, in which every person has a sense of their place and of their history. It was a privilege to be shown the sights by such a widely esteemed writer, who was known and respected wherever we went as Armenia's greatest living poet. From the centre of the city to the most remote mountain monastery, Razmic was recognised by young and old alike.

So overall a fantastic trip, thoroughly enjoyed; we returned with a lasting impression of the richness of Armenian culture and hospitality, and also with a heartening sense of the continued value of Arc's work internationally.